Lone survivor: the eyewitness account of Operation Redwing and the lost heroes of SEAL team 10



1 To Afghanistan...in a Flying Warehouse

2 Baby Seals...and Big Ole Gators

3 A School for Warriors

4 Welcome to Hell, Gentlemen

5 Like the Remnants of a Ravaged Army

6 ‘Bye, Dudes, Give ’Em Hell

7 An Avalanche of Gunfire

8 The Final Battle for Murphy’s Ridge

9 Blown-up, Shot, and Presumed Dead

10 An American Fugitive Cornered by the Taliban

11 Reports of My Death Greatly Exaggerated

12 “Two-two-eight! It’s Two-two-eight!”

Epilogue: Lone Star



About the Authors

Copyright © 2007 by Marcus Luttrell


All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.


Little, Brown and Company

Hachette Book Group USA

237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017

Visit our Web site at


First eBook Edition: June 2007


ISBN: 0-316-00752-8


This book is dedicated to the memory of Murph, Axe, and Danny Boy, Kristensen, Shane, James, Senior, Jeff, Jacques, Taylor, and Mac. These were the eleven men of Alfa and Echo Platoons who fought and died in the mountains of Afghanistan trying to save my life, and with whom I was honored to serve my country. There is no waking hour when I do not remember them all with the deepest affection and the most profound, heartbreaking sadness.




ould this ever become easier? House to house, freeway to freeway, state to state? Not so far. And here I was again, behind the wheel of a hired SUV, driving along another Main Street, past the shops and the gas station, this time in a windswept little town on Long Island, New York, South Shore, down by the long Atlantic beaches. Winter was coming. The skies were platinum. The whitecaps rolled in beneath dark, lowering clouds. So utterly appropriate, because this time was going to be worse than the others. A whole lot worse.

I found my landmark, the local post office, pulled in behind the building, and parked. We all stepped out of the vehicle, into a chill November day, the remains of the fall leaves swirling around our feet. No one wanted to lead the way, none of the five guys who accompanied me, and for a few moments we just stood there, like a group of mailmen on their break.

I knew where to go. The house was just a few yards down the street. And in a sense, I’d been there before — in Southern California, northern California, and Nevada. In the next few days, I still had to visit Washington and Virginia Beach. And so many things would always be precisely the same.

There would be the familiar devastated sadness, the kind of pain that wells up when young men are cut down in their prime. The same hollow feeling in each of the homes. The same uncontrollable tears. The same feeling of desolation, of brave people trying to be brave, lives which had uniformly been shot to pieces. Inconsolable. Sorrowful.

As before, I was the bearer of the terrible news, as if no one knew the truth until I arrived, so many weeks and months after so many funerals. And for me, this small gathering in Patchogue, Long Island, was going to be the worst.

I tried to get a hold of myself. But again in my mind I heard that terrible, terrible scream, the same one that awakens me, bullying its way into my solitary dreams, night after night, the confirmation of guilt. The endless guilt of the survivor.

“Help me, Marcus! Please help me!”

It was a desperate appeal in the mountains of a foreign land. It was a scream cried out in the echoing high canyons of one of the loneliest places on earth. It was the nearly unrecognizable cry of a mortally wounded creature. And it was a plea I could not answer. I can’t forget it. Because it was made by one of the finest people I ever met, a man who happened to be my best friend.

All the visits had been bad. Dan’s sister and wife, propping each other up; Eric’s father, an admiral, alone with his grief; James’s fiancée and father; Axe’s wife and family friends; Shane’s shattered mother in Las Vegas. They were all terrible. But this one would be worse.

I finally led the way through the blowing leaves, out into the cold, strange street, and along to the little house with its tiny garden, the grass uncut these days. But the lights of an illuminated American flag were still right there in the front window. They were the lights of a patriot, and they still shone defiantly, just as if he were still here. Mikey would have liked that.

We all stopped for a few moments, and then we climbed the little flight of steps and knocked on the door. She was pretty, the lady who answered the door, long dark hair, her eyes already brimming with tears. His mother.

She knew I had been the last person to see him alive. And she stared up at me with a look of such profound sadness it damn near broke me in half and said, quietly, “Thank you for coming.”

I somehow replied, “It’s because of your son that I am standing here.”

As we all walked inside, I looked straight at the hall table and on it was a large framed photograph of a man looking straight at me, half grinning. There was Mikey, all over again, and I could hear his mom saying, “He didn’t suffer, did he? Please tell me he didn’t suffer.”

I had to wipe the sleeve of my jacket across my eyes before I answered that. But I did answer. “No, Maureen. He didn’t. He died instantly.”

I had told her what she’d asked me to tell her. That kind of tactical response was turning out to be essential equipment for the lone survivor.

I tried to tell her of her son’s unbending courage, his will, his iron control. And as I’d come to expect, she seemed as if she had not yet accepted anything. Not until I related it. I was the essential bearer of the final bad news.

In the course of the next hour we tried to talk like adults. But it was too difficult. There was so much that could have been said, and so much that would never be said. And no amount of backup from my three buddies, plus the New York City fireman and policeman who accompanied us, made much difference.

But this was a journey I had to complete. I had promised myself I would do it, no matter what it took, because I knew what it would mean to each and every one of them. The sharing of personal anguish with someone who was there. House to house, grief to grief.

I considered it my sworn duty. But that did not make it any easier. Maureen hugged us all as we left. I nodded formally to the photograph of my best friend, and we walked down that sad little path to the street.

Tonight it would be just as bad, because we were going to see Heather, Mikey’s fiancée, in her downtown New York City apartment. It wasn’t fair. They would have been married by now. And the day after this, I had to go to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the graves of two more absent friends.

By any standards it was an expensive, long, and melancholy journey across the United States of America, paid for by the organization for which I work. Like me, like all of us, they understand. And as with many big corporations which have a dedicated workforce, you can tell a lot about them by their corporate philosophy, their written constitution, if you like.

It’s the piece of writing which defines their employees and their standards. I have for several years tried to base my life on the opening paragraph:

“In times of uncertainty there is a special breed of warrior ready to answer our Nation’s call; a common man with uncommon desire to succeed. Forged by adversity, he stands alongside America’s finest special operations forces to serve his country and the American people, and to protect their way of life. I am that man.”

My name is Marcus. Marcus Luttrell. I’m a United States Navy SEAL, Team Leader, SDV Team 1, Alfa Platoon. Like every other SEAL, I’m trained in weapons, demolition, and unarmed combat. I’m a sniper, and I’m the platoon medic. But most of all, I’m an American. And when the bell sounds, I will come out fighting for my country and for my teammates. If necessary, to the death.

And that’s not just because the SEALs trained me to do so; it’s because I’m willing to do so. I’m a patriot, and I fight with the Lone Star of Texas on my right arm and another Texas flag over my heart. For me, defeat is unthinkable.

Mikey died in the summer of 2005, fighting shoulder to shoulder with me in the high country of northeast Afghanistan. He was the best officer I ever knew, an iron-souled warrior of colossal, almost unbelievable courage in the face of the enemy.

Two who
believe it were my other buddies who also fought and died up there. That’s Danny and Axe: two American heroes, two towering figures in a fighting force where valor is a common virtue. Their lives stand as a testimony to the central paragraph of the philosophy of the U.S. Navy SEALs:

“I will never quit. I persevere and thrive on adversity. My Nation expects me to be physically harder and mentally stronger than my enemies. If knocked down, I will get back up, every time. I will draw on every remaining ounce of strength to protect my teammates and to accomplish our mission. I am never out of the fight.”

As I mentioned, my name is Marcus. And I’m writing this book because of my three buddies Mikey, Danny, and Axe. If I don’t write it, no one will ever understand the indomitable courage under fire of those three Americans. And that would be the biggest tragedy of all.



To Afghanistan...in a Flying Warehouse

This was payback time for the World Trade Center. We were coming after the guys who did it. If not the actual guys, then their blood brothers, the lunatics who still wished us dead and might try it again.

ood-byes tend to be curt among Navy SEALs. A quick backslap, a friendly bear hug, no one uttering what we’re all thinking:
Here we go again, guys, going to war, to another trouble spot, another half-assed enemy willing to try their luck against us...they must be out of their minds.

It’s a SEAL thing, our unspoken invincibility, the silent code of the elite warriors of the U.S. Armed Forces. Big, fast, highly trained guys, armed to the teeth, expert in unarmed combat, so stealthy no one ever hears us coming. SEALs are masters of strategy, professional marksmen with rifles, artists with machine guns, and, if necessary, pretty handy with knives. In general terms, we believe there are very few of the world’s problems we could not solve with high explosive or a well-aimed bullet.

We operate on sea, air, and land. That’s where we got our name. U.S. Navy SEALs, underwater, on the water, or out of the water. Man, we can do it all. And where we were going, it was likely to be strictly out of the water. Way out of the water. Ten thousand feet up some treeless moonscape of a mountain range in one of the loneliest and sometimes most lawless places in the world. Afghanistan.

“ ’Bye, Marcus.” “Good luck, Mikey.” “Take it easy, Matt.” “See you later, guys.” I remember it like it was yesterday, someone pulling open the door to our barracks room, the light spilling out into the warm, dark night of Bahrain, this strange desert kingdom, which is joined to Saudi Arabia by the two-mile-long King Fahd Causeway.

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